Ever wonder how important fishing landing percentage is? Ever wonder if rod design increases your ability to land fish? At Alpha, we do.
The hardest part is proving this feature is built in. It’s easy to show how accurate or sensitive a fishing rod is, but fish landing percentage takes time. It takes proof… like 2 Bassmaster Elite AOY trophies.
“Since I started with Alpha, I’ve won AOY twice and never finished lower than 10th the other years. I don’t believe in coincidence, and our rod designs have made a huge impact in my AOY standings,” says 2X Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Brandon Palaniuk.
It's not just Palaniuk either
In 2022, Alpha signed John Soukup. The NPFL star decided to fish all 9 Bassmaster Opens with the goal of qualifying for the Elites. A goal that's extremely hard to accomplish. After last year, John’s a believer as well.
“I mean the proof is there, right. Brandon’s accomplishments notwithstanding, I qualified for the Elites the first year I started using Alphas,” says Elite Qualifier John Soukup. “In each event I can recall key fish-catches that kept me in the race. I lose any of those fish, I don’t make it… not even one.”
You’re dragging the hook
Years ago Rick Clunn preached about the 7’ Heavy action rod as the only rod you need to have on the boat. Many of the greats like Brauer and Biffle shared similar beliefs, and with it the production rod market continued to produce longer, more powerful rods.
Unfortunately, advances in rod technology along with fishing lines have created the scenario where the biggest fish can get the upper hand. When Clunn wrote that article, he didn’t have space-age fluorocarbons or no-stretch superlines, nor did he have laser sharpened hooks. Back in the day, Clunn and the others had to set the hook with reckless abandon to remove the mono stretch and drive an inferior bronze hook.
Never got a hook in ‘em.
One of the biggest problems is called hook flex or hook drag. With the lack of stretch in today’s fishing lines our heavy powered fishing rods are forcing the hook open during the hook set and dragging it down the roof of the fish’s mouth. This is why you see so many big fish where the hook just falls out in the net.
So why don’t we lose the small fish nearly as often, if hook drag is the real problem. Well the answer is simple physics. When you hard-set on a small fish, it doesn’t have the weight or the water displacement to resist the movement you created on the hookset. It’s the difference between setting the hook into a tennis shoe or a ski-boot while in the garage. The tennis shoe is flying towards your waist at extreme speed, and the ski-boot just falls over. Big fish will resist the movement, which causes the hook to flex and cut, instead of penetrate.
Recently, we compared a few of the mainstay “Heavy action” rods from 10-15 years ago with many of today’s favorite "heavy" rods, and the results were as expected. Most of yester-year’s heavy actioned rods would rate as medium-heavy, at best, with today’s technology. Pair that extra rod strength with reduced line stretch, and you're landing percentages will decline.
Damage Control = Consistency
Losing fish is part of the game we play. Both Soukup and Palaniuk agree that landing percentage makes the biggest difference on tough days. When you only get 5-6 bites in a day, the ability to box those fish is paramount to consistency.
“Consistency can be like damage control,” says Brandon. “Landing a key fish during a very tough tournament may not seem like much, but it can make all the difference in cutting a check… or a win, or even the AOY race.”
To be continued…
The Alpha crew is constantly critiquing, testing and debating the “fish landing” design we’re committed to. Hook drag may be one of many problems we’ve attacked, but that only represents a fraction of bass catching techniques . For almost every technique we’ve designed a rod with the best taper, sensitivity and power to hook and land more fish.
In the next blog, we’ll dive into other fishing landing theory and how it drives our successful designs.